Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center

Social Impact Exchange is committed to providing the highest quality information from across the sector to inform the funding and implementation of high-impact scaling initiatives. The Knowledge Center provides members with access to articles, case studies, tools & templates and the latest research on scaling – as well as other organizations involved in replication and scaling, and more.

Use the Knowledge Center to:
  • Learn about how to fund initiatives going to scale
  • Access a rich database of resources on scaling
  • Learn how to plan your growth and scaling
  • Learn about others interested in scaling — grantmakers, investors, nonprofits intermediaries, consultants, and more
  • Determine if investing in or implementing a scaling initiative is right for you

Check this section periodically for newspapers, publications, articles and reports

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General Scaling

12 Case Studies of Community Collaboratives
Through its work with the White House Council for Community Solutions, The Bridgespan Group had the opportunity to learn from 12 community collaboratives engaged in collective impact across the country. These collaboratives have already achieved needle-moving change (at least 10 percent progress on a community-wide metric) and are making further strides in solving critical social issues.

After a Century of Operations, a Charity Starts Its Growth Spurt
After many years of modest growth, Big Brothers Big Sisters has major growth plans due to the rediscovered important positive impact of their program.

An Experiment in Scaling Impact: Assessing the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation provides a comprehensive assessment of its five year experiment called "Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot" which started in 2007. The pilot tests whether a new form of coordinated, collaborative philanthropy could help high-performing organizations expand to significant, sustainable scale and improve the life prospects of America’s growing numbers of economically disadvantaged youth.

Applying a Broader Concept of Scale to Evaluate a Funding Strategy
In this article from The Evaluation Exchange, Erin Harris and Priscilla Little of Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) discuss how HFRP used a multidimensional concept of scale to evaluate The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Integrated Learning Cluster (ILC) strategy. The ILC is a multiyear national effort to keep disadvantaged youth ages 8 to 16 engaged in learning during out-of-school time hours. To achieve scale, Atlantic invested in a range of nonschool supports—grants for direct service, infrastructure, and advocacy efforts.

Asset Building for Social Change: Pathways to Large-Scale Impact
The difficulties of creating large-scale social change are well known to development practitioners, activists, and foundation staff. This is certainly true for those working in the Ford Foundation’s Asset Building and Community Development Program. As grantmakers,they seek to make a big difference, and to use their relatively small resources to leverage large impacts. But how can this be done? In seeking the answer, Ford Foundation examined its own body of work, focusing mainly on current initiatives that appeared to be making headway in going to scale.

Back to School: Lessons from Past Mistakes Have Helped Teach for America Set—and Meet—Ambitious Plans for Growth
Discusses the issues confronting Teach for America during its rapid expansion over the past nine years and what it is planning for its next stage of expansion which is being funded by a $60 million growth fund.

Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets: Why Philanthropy Doesn't Advance Social Progress [requires purchase]
This book suggests that if donors were smarter about where, when, and how much money they gave, the organizations could devote more attention to making better use of greater amounts of money. Author Steven Goldberg explores three critical questions: Why does the social sector need more effective capital markets? What would robust nonprofit capital markets look like? How can such markets be created? Goldberg addresses how the nonprofit market should be structured to best allocate funds in support of high-performing organizations that deserve additional resources to achieve optimal scale.

Bringing Nonprofits to Scale
Video Featuring William Foster, Bridgespan Group Senior Partner and incoming Executive Director of the Jacobson Family Foundation

Building Fields for Policy Change
This report was published with support from the MacArthur Foundation and demonstrates how funders can improve their policy strategies by integrating some of the core elements of field building. It provides illustrative examples and identifies tools and best practices for funders to strengthen their fields of interest. This report was produced by Blueprint Research + Design, Inc., which was acquired by Arabella Advisors in 2011.

Building From Strength: Replication As a Strategy for Expanding Social Programs That Work
This study of replication was undertaken to investigate its potential as a strategy for extending the scale of effective services in a number of areas of domestic social policy. One goal of the work was to contribute, at a time of severe austerity and budget constraint, to the cost-effective use of scarce resources available for domestic investment. A second goal was to consider possible steps that might be taken by foundations and public agencies to help promising local programs expand their activities to new sites by building upon the body of knowledge described in this study.

Case Study: Preparing for a Pay for Success Opportunity
Third Sector Capital Partners, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, has published a case study on its experience working with Roca, Inc. on their successful response to Massachusetts’ Social Innovation Financing project for juvenile justice. The case discusses the challenges, lessons learned, and process of launching the nation’s first state-level Pay for Success contract.

Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: A Funder's Guide
This publication explores what it takes to cultivate a network mindset, and offers recommendations for how funders can effectively build the capacity of networks and share what they're learning with the broader field. This guide is for grantmakers who are just beginning to explore networks and for those further along who want to reflect on their practice.

Collective Impact
This paper was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations. Substantially greater progress could be made in alleviating many of our most serious and complex social problems if nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public were brought together around a common agenda to create collective impact.

Cracking the Network Code: Four Principles for Grantmakers
This publication sets out to crack the code behind the network mystique. Cracking the Network Code outlines four principles that comprise the network mindset, illustrates the principles with a range of examples of networks that have achieved real results, and offers practical questions and recommendations to help grantmakers achieve the benefits and avoid common pitfalls of working through networks.

Deeper Capacity Building for Greater Impact
With funding from the James Irvine Foundation, the TCC Group has published a paper on long-term capacity-building (LTCB) initiatives. It provides tangible examples of design options, best practices, and common challenges of LTCB initiatives. The purpose of the paper is to stimulate thinking within private foundations, corporate community involvement departments, and public agencies about capacity building and inform decision-making in designing and managing any LTCB initiative.

Ensuring That "Scaling What Works" Actually Works
This blog post from Stanford Social Innovation Review acknowledges that nonprofits that invest in measuring, improving, and ultimately proving their impact should be rewarded, and they should grow. But in order for “scaling what works” to actually work, we need a new and improved version that addresses two fundamental constraints: 1) past performance is no guarantee of success, and 2) missing the forest for the trees.

From Grantmaker to Federal Grantee: Risks and Rewards
This guide highlights three grantmakers that participated in the Social Innovation Fund's inaugural year. The report includes their experience of shifting from grantmaker to federal grantee (benefits and barriers), how they strengthened their own knowledge and what capacities they developed to make the partnership with the federal government work.

Funder as Convener
In this blog post Curtis Ogden reflects on his experience in Michigan working with a group of diverse foundations in a customized Facilitative Leadership session. He shares thoughts stemming from a very productive and provocative conversation about how to address and manage power dynamics when one attempts to initiate a partnership or collaborative effort and one is holding the purse strings or a significant portion thereof.

Getting Replication Right: The Decisions That Matter Most for Nonprofit Organizations Looking to Expand
By surveying a number of nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations through replication, coupled with Bridgespan’s own experience in the field, this article outlines the key decisions that need to be made in order to carry out a successful replication.

Going to Scale: The Challenge of Replicating Social Programs
Tackles question of how proven nonprofit programs can increase their reach beyond single communities and how nonprofits can think about the decision to replicate and steps they can take through lessons learned by Jumpstart, City Year and STRIVE.

Greater than the Sum of Its Parts, Part I: A Regional Perspective on Changing Demographics
Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) prepared this report to offer practical lessons from the experiences of four nonprofit leaders in the VPP portfolio who expanded to new jurisdictions to fill unmet service needs. In addition to interviews with each of the four leaders, long-time observers of the region’s human services sector also shared insights about the short- and long-term implications of the demographic trends in light of the economic crisis that the region, the country and the world are experiencing.

Growing What Works: Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania's Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative
In 2001, P/PV was asked to oversee the statewide replication of the Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania—one of the largest and most successful expansions of this well regarded home-visiting program, which has been found to produce substantial and enduring improvements in the health and well-being of low-income first-time parents and their children. Our experience in Pennsylvania has shown that the replication of evidence-based models can be an enormous challenge, even for highly defined and effective programs like Nurse-Family Partnership. Replication across many sites simultaneously, and by a common funder, is labor-intensive and comes with expectations of outcomes similar to those achieved in research trials. As a result, ensuring fidelity to the established program model, while allowing for local innovation, is paramount to success.

Guidelines for Replicating Programs to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
This report provides guidance about the replication of effective pregnancy prevention programs. And discusses lessons from the replication experiences of three programs: The Teen Outreach Program, The CAS-Carrera Program, and Plain Talk, whose national replication is being managed by P/PV.

How Nonprofits Get Really Big
Since 1970, more than 200,000 nonprofits have opened in the U.S., but only 144 of them have reached $50 million in annual revenue. Most of the members of this elite group got big by doing two things. They raised the bulk of their money from a single type of funder such as corporations or government – and not, as conventional wisdom would recommend, by going after diverse sources of funding and just as importantly created professional organizations tailored to the needs of their primary funding sources.

In New Brand of Philanthropy, Nonprofits Invest in For-Profits
Increasingly, philanthropy is taking its cues from Wall Street and Silicon Valley. The shift stems from a new generation of philanthropists, like Bill and Melinda Gates, Pierre and Pam Omidyar and Steve and Jean Case, hoping to stretch their dollars. According to this article, the pool of philanthropic assets is too small to make a dent in seemingly intractable social problems and corporations and individual philanthropists alike are looking for ways to reuse existing financing and to attract new types of capital.

Innovations for Scale and Sustainability in the EITC Campaigns
There is increasing interest in identifying alternative models for EITC outreach, tax preparation and asset development programs that have greater potential for scale, sustainability and impact and lessons learned. This examination of 5 pilots can help expand our understanding of the challenge of scale for the community economic development field.

Investing in What Works
Getting organized for replication is no simple matter. There are many moving parts to a replication effort, and each needs to be thought through carefully. This working paper details the questions that should frame any serious replication effort.

Laying a Solid Foundation: Strategies for Effective Program Replication
This report is a synthesis of P/PV's 30 years of experience designing, testing and replicating a variety of social programs. It was designed as a guide for policymakers, practitioners and philanthropists who are interested in a systematic approach to program replication. It clearly lays out the key structures that should be in place before wide-scale replication is considered, as well as the steps needed to ensure the replication's success. With details on when in a program's life to replicate, where the replication should take place, and the staff resources needed, Laying a Solid Foundation can help capitalize on proven programs' successes.

More Bang for the Buck
Scores of pundits have written books, research reports, and articles about how business leaders extracted greater productivity from their companies. Yet few have paid attention to this topic in the nonprofit sector. Recognizing that increasing productivity could be a powerful way for nonprofit organizations to multiply the impact of their work, the authors explore how three nonprofits succeeded in reducing costs without sacrificing the quality of their services.

New Pathways to Scale for Community Development Finance
The purpose of is to gain an understanding of how to strengthen the overall system for financing community development in the United States. It attempts to provide a useful understanding of scale, how it can be achieved and the possible advantages and disadvantages of achieving it. It also proposes a new strategic framework for CDFIs and funders to consider to facilitate product development and greatly expand delivery.

Nonprofit M&A is No Oxymoron
This paper is a guide for nonprofits in mergers and acquisitions. John Macintosh provides advice on how to develop a successful collaboration among nonprofits.

Nonprofits: Ensuring that Bigger is Better
Explores how nonprofit federations manage themselves and how the national offices can achieve their full potential by giving affiliates four tangible benefits: a valuable national brand, a reliable system for measuring performance, shared administrative services, and coordinated fund-raising.

Partnering with Intermediaries
The purpose of this paper, published by Grantmakers in the Arts, is to explore the dimensions of foundation-intermediary partnerships in order to inform future philanthropic strategy and practice. A prime strategy for extending a foundation’s reach and augmenting the knowledge and skills of its staff is to partner with a variety of intermediary organizations (IOs). In addition to providing specialized expertise, IOs can take on a variety of critical assignments, including program design and management, regranting, fiscal sponsorship, capacity building with subgrantees and convening and coordination of a field.

Pathways to Grow Impact: Philanthropy's Role in the Journey
This publication is the result of a collaborative project with Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group that sought to answer the question: How can grantmakers best support high-performing nonprofits in their efforts to grow their impact? It offers a framework for understanding different approaches to scaling impact, stories from nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations' impact, and practical recommendations for grantmakers seeking more effective ways to achieve better results.

Pathways to Social Impact: Strategies for Scaling Out Successful Social Innovations
The Matrix of Strategic Options for Scaling Out is a conceptual framework to help social entrepreneurs and funders identify and assess options for scaling innovations, including branching, affiliation and dissemination. The authors also recommend refining scaling strategy by considering the Five R's: Readiness, Resources, Receptivity, Risk, and Return.

Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World [requires purchase]
An examination of how today’s leading philanthropists are revolutionizing the field, using new methods to have a vastly greater impact on the world. For philanthropists of the past, charity was often a matter of simply giving money away. For the philanthrocapitalists – the new generation of billionaires who are reshaping the way they give – it’s like business. Largely trained in the corporate world, these “social investors” are using big-business-style strategies and expecting results and accountability to match. Matthew Bishop and Michael Green examine this new movement and its implications. Proceeding from interviews with some of the most powerful people on the planet—including Gates, Bill Clinton, George Soros, Angelina Jolie, and Bono, among others—they show how a web of wealthy, motivated donors has set out to change the world.

Profile: American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) was founded in 1971 to help people with kidney failure pay for dialysis. For 25 years AKF grew slowly, relying on funding from small donors with personal ties to kidney disease. But in 1996 an opportunity opened up when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) banned healthcare providers from covering needy patients’ Medicare Part B and Medigap premiums. HIPAA left thousands of kidney patients unable to pay for treatment. AKF acted fast—partnering with healthcare providers to serve these disenfranchised patients—and revenues soared. "Switching our emphasis to corporate partners in 1997 was the real turning point in our organization," said Don Roy, director of finance and operations.

Profile: Communities in Schools
From a small start in Atlanta in 1971, Communities in Schools (CIS) has grown to become the largest dropout prevention program in the country. By bringing caring adults into schools to address children’s unmet needs, CIS frees up teachers to teach and helps students focus on learning. While the charisma of CIS founder Bill Milliken drove early connections to large donors, in time, the organization began to rely heavily on federal funding, which has created some ups and downs. In the 1980s, CIS transitioned to a national network structure—a move that spurred growth by allowing state offices to seek their own funding.

Profile: Conservation International
Conservation International’s mission is to conserve the Earth’s living heritage—our global biodiversity—and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature. CI’s combination of scientific inquiry and large-scale conservation supports the organization’s appeal to governments, foundations, and wealthy individual donors. CI seeks to maintain operational autonomy by appealing to funders who agree with the fundamentals of its mission. CI also has leveraged its financial stability to expand into market-based approaches to conservation and form partnerships with governments, multinational organizations, private corporations, and other stakeholders.

Profile: Habitat for Humanity
Since 1976 Habitat for Humanity has been using donated building materials, professional services, and volunteer labor to help low-income families become homeowners. This Christian ministry is largely funded by small individual donors. A key asset is Habitat’s strong brand, which the it has built, in part, by using high-profile people such as Jimmy Carter to communicate its message. “A strong brand is at the center of our fundraising from so many small donors,” said CFO Lyn Johnson. “But the tremendous value of Habitat’s brand name has grown slowly and depended on the organization’s stability.” As Habitat has grown, its network model has enabled it to continue to engage communities on a grassroots level—essential to successful mass fundraising.

Profile: HELP USA, Inc.
Founded in 1986 as a low-cost, high-impact alternative to New York’s approach of paying hotels to house the homeless, HELP USA builds transitional shelters, provides support services, and moves homeless families to stable housing faster than welfare hotels. Over the years, the organization has branched out geographically. It also has expanded its programming to include case management, welfare-to-work, child mentoring, and domestic violence programs. While HELP USA is somewhat limited to those services the government will reimburse, its growth has come, in part, through its ability to demonstrate better outcomes at a reduced cost, manage complex finances, and maintain an engaged board.

Profile: HOPE worldwide
Founded by the International Churches of Christ in 1991, HOPE worldwide delivers community-based services to poor people. The nonprofit operates in more than 70 countries and assists more than one million people each year. Focusing on education for children and medical services for the elderly, HOPE worldwide relies on volunteers to build strong ties with the communities it serves. Despite challenges in funding organizational capacity, the nonprofit has been able to support its ever-expanding services by reaching beyond its base of small individual church donors and tapping government and corporate grants. In-kind donations from corporations and hospitals also have been instrumental in its growth.

Profile: Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
The Make-A-Wish Foundation originated in 1980 when a terminally ill boy had his wish to become a police officer granted. Later that year, Make-A-Wish began fundraising to grant more wishes; today its revenues exceed $160 million and its 71 U.S. chapters have granted the wishes of more than 144,000 children worldwide. During the 1990s Make-A-Wish grew rapidly by opening loosely-governed local chapters. Once chapters covered the U.S. growth slowed—though the nonprofit has continued to enjoy strong support from individual and corporate donors. The purity of the nonprofit's mission make it an easy sell to fundraisers, partners, and volunteers—and Make-A-Wish leaders have worked hard not to muddy the waters.

Profile: Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership
The Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) was born in 1991 from a merger of the Boston Housing Partnership and Metropolitan Housing, Inc. In its early years, MBHP was a full-spectrum real estate developer and housing services provider. But facing steep competition in the real estate development arena, the nonprofit eventually refocused its efforts on an unment need: rental assistance for low income and homeless families. By honing ts expertise in managing vouchers and housing families quickly, MBHP made itself an asset to government agencies. In turn, MBHP's revenue growth has closely followed the growth in federal funding for rental assistance housing voucher programs.

Profile: National Wild Turkey Federation
The National Wild Turkey Foundation (NWTF) funds scientific wildlife management to promote wild turkey hunting. Since its founding in 1973, NWTF has helped grow the U.S. wild turkey population from 1.3 to 7.0 million. This grassroots conservation organization, which grew slowly through its first two decades, has expanded dramatically since the late 1990s when NWTF made profitability a top goal and honed its banquet-in-a-box fundraising model. With the help of local turkey enthusiasts, NWTF runs over 2,000 banquets per year—averaging $10,000 each in net receipts. In addition to producing revenues, the banquets have grown NWTF membership from 20,000 in its early days to its current size of 500,000 members.

Profile: Natural Resources Defense Council
Founded in 1970 the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) uses legal and scientific expertise—along with a base of 1.2 million members and online activists—to protect the planet’s wild life and wild places. Best known for its involvement in the Clean Air Act, NRDC’s current campaigns address climate change and oil drilling in Alaska. After 20 years of limited growth with mainly foundation funding, NRDC leadership realized it needed individual donors to grow more significantly. Simultaneously, the nonprofit was shifting from pure policy analysis to increased advocacy efforts. Today, individual members, who are attracted to NRDC’s broad range of environmental programming, provide more than 70 percent of revenues and powerful advocacy support

Profile: Nehemiah Corporation of America
When HUD made it legal in 1997 for nonprofits to disburse private-sector donations to help low-income families buy homes, the Nehemiah Corporation was poised to translate regulatory change into rapid growth. Through the Nehemiah Program the nonprofit charges private corporations a small fee in return for its grant placement services. “In the beginning our growth was due to being in the right place at the right time,” said CEO Scott Syphax. “Now it is due to our people, our management, and our operational practices.” Despite private sector talent and best practices, in recent years, growth at Nehemiah has slowed due to increased competition and difficulty obtaining foundation funding.

Profile: Opportunity International
Complexity can make a nonprofit organization a tough sell to donors. But Opportunity International has managed to use complexity to its advantage. This Christian ecumenical organization creates jobs and stimulates small, primarily women-owned businesses through micro-enterprise development. In many ways Opportunity’s complex program model has dictated its funding strategy. The nonprofit engages in data-rich, one-on-one conversations with high net-worth individuals. This investment in donor relationships has paid off: Opportunity’s revenues have grown steadily over time, with 80 percent of individual dollars coming from 4 percent of donors who give at least $25,000.

Profile: Oregon Food Bank
The Oregon Food Bank (OFB) seeks to eliminate hunger in Oregon, which the USDA identified as the worst state in terms of hunger and food security in 1999. To meet this pressing need, OFB collects and distributes food to 20 regional food banks. While OFB has maintained a constant mix of in-kind donations (approximately 70 percent) and cash, it has constantly innovated in order to grow. For example, in the late 1980s OFB shifted from 75 percent USDA funding to 75 percent private donations. And in the late 1990s OFB shifted from large donations of packaged and canned goods from a few retailers to large quantities of fresh and frozen donations from farmers and processors.

Profile: Population Services International
For its first 16 years, Population Services International (PSI) worked mostly in family planning. But since the late 1990s, PSI has grown dramatically as it’s expanded the health problems it addresses—including AIDS, malaria, safe water, and nutrition—and the places it serves. Today, PSI works in 60 countries, investing heavily in local staff to give them decision-making authority. At the heart of PSI’s growth? Successful commercial marketing strategies borrowed from the for-profit sector to promote health products, services, and healthy behaviors that help people lead healthier lives. PSI’s ability to demonstrate positive outcomes has been key to attracting governmental and major individual donors.

Profile: Safe Horizon
Profile: Safe Horizon For over a quarter of a century, Safe Horizon has assisted victims of crime and abuse. Today the nonprofit serves 350,000 people each year through its 80 programs, which range from domestic violence shelters to court-based services. In 1998 new CEO Gordon Campbell shifted the focus from adding new programs to managing and executing core programs effectively. “The ability to manage and plan effectively, together with maintaining the quality of our social services, has allowed us to be successful in an increasingly competitive market,” said Campbell, who emphasized setting long-term goals, implementing systems, and adding expertise through key hires.

Profile: Success For All Foundation
The Success For All Foundation (SFA) develops, evaluates, and disseminates proven reform models for preschool, elementary, and middle schools, with a particular focus on schools serving at-risk children. SFA programs have always been designed around Title 1 federal funding requirements—a strategy that propelled growth for a number of years. But in 2001 SFA hit a major stumbling block with the passage of No Child Left Behind. As schools shifted away from SFA, growth plummeted. Since then SFA has reduced its staff, divested select programs, and pared down to a core set of reading products. As a smaller, more focused organization, SFA can continue to impact education moving forward.

Profile: Texas Migrant Council
Since 1971 the Texas Migrant Council, Inc. (TMC) has provided Head Start and other services for the children of migrant farmworkers. TMC serves families along the Texas-Mexico border for nine months out of the year and then migrates to places where families find seasonal work. After a brief foray into workforce development in the mid-90s, TMC refocused on children. “We had to realize that our greatest resource was our expertise in early child education,” said CEO Mary Capello. In recent years TMC offices have taken a more active role in program management. This has resulted in higher quality services and faster growth—within Texas and into new geographic markets—through improved access to local funding.

Profile: The Greater Boston Food Bank
Distributing over 25 million pounds of food annually to hundreds of local agencies, the Greater Boston Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England. At the Food Bank efficiencies have driven growth, as the nonprofit has become more effective at processing and distributing products. Such efficiencies have allowed the Food Bank to increase food distributed and areas served, creating a broader base for fundraising. The organization has also adopted best practices from for-profit companies and pursued key private sector hires. Now a new challenge: Having maximized its current operational activities, to continue to grow, the Food Bank must invest in new operational capabilities, such as those inherent with perishable foods.

Profile: Trust for Public Land
Simply put, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) conserves land for people to enjoy it. TPL does this by buying land from private sellers and selling it to public agencies. During the last 35 years TPL has raised over $35 billion in land conservation-related funding and facilitated more than 2,700 land transactions. But most of these accomplishments have taken place since the mid-1990s. At that time TPL moved into the “conservation finance” arena, running state and local campaigns to increase land conservation awareness and funding. A few years later growth exploded when new President Will Rogers made it an explicit goal.

Profile: Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
Founded in 1975 Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) contracts with state, city, and county authorities, offering a cost-effective alternative to jail or institutional rehabilitation for adjudicated youth. Over the years it has grown by translating political crises into funding opportunities: When states have been unable to fund their correctional systems, YAP has offered a more affordable model. As YAP’s name recognition has grown, the organization has been able to expand to 115 programs in 11 states and Washington, D.C. Relying entirely on government funding, YAP has faced some financial ups and downs, which it has endured thanks to the personal sacrifice of its founders and the passion of its staff.

Profile: Youth Villages
Youth Villages serves youth in or at risk of entering the child welfare and juvenile justice systems through a range of residential facilities, foster care, and in-home services. Relying heavily on state funding, Youth Villages has achieved significant scale by working with multiple states and multiple departments within each state—often collaborating with states to assess needs and develop programs. The organization’s willingness to take on significant risk in its contracts has also buoyed its funding. For example, the state of Tennessee pays Youth Villages an amount per child based on the child’s situation. The nonprofit then must service the child for that fee, regardless of how much service the child ultimately requires.

Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy is Social Justice Philanthropy
This report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s suggests that prioritizing and including underserved communities and support of community organizing are important components of successful philanthropic strategy regardless of issue focus. The last several years have seen a shift in philanthropy: an emphasis on maximizing impact has grantmakers aiming to be more organized, focused and, perhaps above all, “strategic” in their efforts. While this admirable shift has made philanthropy more effective, our society and the nonprofit sector continue to confront significant disparities.

Replicating High-Performing Public Schools: Lessons from the Field
As a growing number of schools demonstrate that public education can work for every student, the question is no longer, “Can we create schools that will achieve outstanding results for all students?” but rather, “How can we replicate schools that we know can work, without sacrificing quality outcomes and within the constraints of the existing funding environment?” In the past few years, Bridgespan has had the privilege of working with a number of school developers who are tackling the challenges of replication. This set of short papers highlights some of the practical lessons they and we are learning in our work together.

Replicating Programs in Social Markets
Since the ebbing of federal leadership in financing social welfare in the 1970’s, how do the best approaches to improving social conditions get identified and broadly adopted.

Scale Pathways: Brings Asset-Building Products and Services to Scale
Living Cities published this report to help funders better assess the elements of scale that best suited for their investments, and help practioners more effectively design projects for scaling. In cities across the country, practitioners in the field of asset-building are developing innovative approaches to expanding savings opportunities in low-income communities. Unfortunately, these programs and services rarely reach enough scale to transform entire cities, regions, states, or even neighborhoods. By releasing the new report, Living Cities hopes to generate discussion among funders and practitioners on approaches necessary for scaling.

Scaling for Social Impact: Exploring Strategies for Spreading Social Innovations
Slides from a one day workshop delivered to nonprofits interested in exploring strategies for spreading social innovations.

Scaling Impact
In this Stanford Social Innovation Review article, Jeffrey Bradach discusses how nonprofit leaders and philanthropists are searching for ways to scale impact beyond adding sites. When it comes to scaling, the question now is “How can we get 100x the impact with only a 2x change in the size of the organization?” This way of thinking about growth is quite new, and social entrepreneurs are still figuring out the best ways to scale impact. But pioneers have identified some tools and strategies that expand the impact of organizations well beyond what their size would seem capable of generating.

Scaling Impact: A Primer for Nonprofits
This e-book is a compilation of observations, takeaways, and information from the Social Impact Exchange's 2010 conference on Scaling Impact. This resource is geared towards helping nonprofits think about the process of scaling, and what factors to consider when deciding whether to scale. It is designed as a primer for those who want to pursue scaling their impact.

Scaling Social Impact: A Literature Toolkit for Funders
In 2012, with support from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), the Social Impact Exchange set out to document and analyze the currently available literature on scaling, in order to both highlight the best set of resources available that are useful to funders actively pursuing grantmaking strategies around scaling impact, and to shine a light on what still needs to be studied and explored. This report is a compendium of the main findings of that work, and is arranged in the form of a funder-facing literature review with links and abstracts, along with recommendations for future work.

Scaling Social Impact: New Thinking [requires purchase]
Many social entrepreneurs struggle to take successful, innovative programs that address social problems a local or limited basis and scale them up to expand their impact in a more widespread, deeper, and efficient way. The editors address this issue with a comprehensive collection of original papers written by leading scholars that offers the latest thinking about how to scale social impact successfully.

Scaling Social Impact: When Everybody Contributes, Everybody Wins
This article provides an overview of challenges of scaling, strategies to overcome these obstacles, and lessons learned. The authors describe emerging mechanisms for scaling impact beyond organizational growth; they identify "open source changemaking" (or open innovation) and "smart networks" as key pathways for spreading social innovations.

Scaling Up: From Vision to Large-Scale Change. A Management Framework for Practioners
The concept of “scaling up” has become increasingly popular as donors have acknowledged with concern the relatively poor record of innovative pilot projects in extending their reach to large populations. Recognizing this, in October 2003, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded a grant to Management Systems International (MSI)to develop a field-tested framework and set of guidelines for improved management of the scaling-up process. This framework was intended to be of direct and immediate use to those planning, implementing, and funding pilot projects and to those hoping to take the results of such projects to scale.

Scaling What Works: Implications for Philanthropists, Policymakers, and Nonprofit Leaders
Offers insights into scaling nonprofit programs, including the need for rigorous impact analysis, more focused funding patterns, capacity building, and research and evaluation, as guidance for government investment and for partnerships with philanthropy. Nancy Roob, EMCF president, and Jeffrey L. Bradach, managing partner and co-founder of the Bridgespan Group, describe the opportunities and challenges presented by the Obama administration’s commitment to investing in social innovation and “what works.”

Scaling Your Social Venture: Becoming an Impact Entrepreneur
When should a social entrepreneurial venture scale? What should they try to understand about the ecosystem in which they operate? What steps can be taken to assess the organization's unique situation and determine the most effective scaling strategies? Bloom outlines the SCALERS model for building an organization's capacity to scale.

Scope, Scale & Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change
This report examines the success factors of Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCI), which are multifaceted initiatives that are funded by public sector agencies and philanthropies and seek to address complex social problems. While there has been a fair amount of discussion in the field about what has not worked, there has been less analysis of the specific practices, approaches, and mechanisms that do lead to success. This report examines those success factors as they relate specifically to the ability of a comprehensive community initiative to achieve the scope and scale required to generate community-level outcomes and to sustain those positive impacts over time. It summarizes a study of eleven CCIs funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Six Steps to Successfully Scale Impact in the Nonprofit Sector
Erin Harris of Harvard Family Research Project discusses how nonprofits can successfully scale up an intervention, based on a review of the literature on this topic. This issue of The Evaluation Exchange explores the promising practices and challenges associated with taking an enterprise to scale, along with the role that evaluation can and should play in that process. Scaling impact often refers to scaling programs or interventions, but ideas, technologies, skills, and policies can also be scaled.

Social Entrepreneurship and Societal Transformation [requires purchase]
This study provides a comparative analysis of 7 cases of social entrepreneurship that have been widely recognized as successful. The article suggests factors associated with successful social entrepreneurship, particularly with social entrepreneurship that leads to significant changes in the social, political, and economic contexts for poor and marginalized groups. It generates propositions about core innovations, leadership and organization, and scaling up in social entrepreneurship that produces societal transformation. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications for social entrepreneurship practice, research, and continued development.

Social Impact Markets
In this article, Andrew Wolk of Root Cause argues that the time has come for a social impact market -- one that fosters innovation and collaboration across the governmental, business, and nonprofit sectors to maximize scarce resources and spread solutions. In the private sector, financial markets provide the infrastructure, information, and incentives to help move capital based on performance. Similarly, social impact markets are emerging as essential mechanisms to enable individuals or institutions to provide financial, volunteer, or in-kind resources with the expectation of those resources resulting in social impact.

Talent Initiative Case Study: Nonprofit with High Performing, Vibrant Culture Builds Talent Infrastructure to Support International Growth
Often, as nonprofit organizations grow and face new situations, or if other external factors such as the competition for talent change, human capital management practices that worked well in the past may no longer be effective. An organization’s human capital management capabilities need to evolve to keep developing the leadership and organization its strategy requires. A new case study on Root Capital provides an excellent example; sustaining its success through rapid growth required a conscious effort to maintain its shared culture and build its team’s capabilities. This case study looks at why an organization might think critically about its human capital management in order to preserve and continue a track record of success.

The Emerging Capital Market for Nonprofits [requires registration]
This Harvard Business Review article states that the new generation of charitable foundations and intermediaries is changing the game by measuring the social impact of donations and offering ways to funnel dollars to the most-effective nonprofits. It sketches out how the nascent capital marketplace for nonprofits is developing. The article starts by looking at the current deficits in the sector’s infrastructure.

The End of Charity: How to Fix the Nonprofit Sector Through Effective Social Investing
The former Director of Evaluation and Knowledge Development at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation puts forth an argument for what social investing is and what the implications of the approach are for the social sector.

The Networked Nonprofit
Management wisdom says that nonprofits must be large and in charge to do the most good. But some of the world’s most successful organizations instead stay small, sharing their load with like-minded, long-term partners. The success of these networked nonprofits suggests that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks.

The Nonprofit Marketplace: Bridging the Information Gap in Philanthropy
This paper seeks to answer two questions: what do donors need to make smart decisions about giving, and how can the philanthropic world ensure that the strongest, most effective nonprofits get the resources they need? This discussion paper summarizes the authors’ perspectives on how the nonprofit sector might improve the flow of information over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Obama Administration's Social Innovation Fund: An In-depth Interview with Director Paul Carttar
Recently, I interviewed Paul Carttar, Director of the Social Innovation Fund--an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) intended to improve the lives of people in low-income communities. It does so by mobilizing public and private resources to grow promising, innovative community-based solutions that have evidence of compelling impact in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.

The Spiral of Sustainable Excellence
This article is adapted from a new book by Paul Light entitled Sustaining Nonprofit Performance: The Case for Capacity Building and the Evidence to Support It, published in 2004 by the Brookings Institution Press. Light compares a nonprofit’s life to a journey up and down a development spiral. Some organizations start with a simple idea for some new program or service and then move up the spiral toward greater and greater impact, progressing through five landings, or stops, along the climb while others linger at one stage or another, perhaps for long periods, without any guarantee that they would advance. He asserts that nonprofit development varies in direction and speed, which is why it is important to understand the organic history of an organization.

The State of Scaling Social Impact: Results of a National Study of Nonprofits
This report compiled by the Social Impact Exchange in partnership with Veris Consulting, discusses results of a nationwide survey of more than 400 nonprofits and details how practitioners view scaling, their motivations and readiness to grow, and the strategies they are deploying to achieve scaled impact. It also serves to highlight the challenges they face as well as the information and support they need to move forward.

Think Large and Act Small: Toward a New Paradigm for NGO Scaling Up [requires purchase]
Scaling up is about "expanding impact" and not about "becoming large," the latter being only one possible way to achieve the former. The experiences of five Indian nongovernment organizations (NGOs) suggest the emergence of a new paradigm of scaling up, in which NGOs become catalysts of policy innovations and social capital, creators of programmatic knowledge that can be spun off and integrated into government and market institutions, and builders of vibrant and diverse civil societies. We detail the mechanisms by which NGO impact can be scaled up without drastically increasing the size of the organization.

Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking
This article published by Grantmakers in the Arts asserts that achieving large-scale and lasting results for individuals or communities — a goal linked to many foundation missions — typically cannot be accomplished with private resources alone. Larger and more sustainable funding sources are needed to scale up those interventions and broaden their impacts. Public policy grantmaking has been described as “one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating real change."

Way to Grow: Charities Use Business Practices to Rapidly Expand Their Programs
This article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy discusses the trend of young charities seeking to go to scale, including a look at what various organizations have struggled with, and their corresponding growth strategies.

What Do We Mean by Scale?
In the past, grantmakers often focused on scaling or growing promising solutions by expanding grantee organizations or replicating effective programs in other communities. Now, more and more grantmakers are broadening their understanding of scale as a means to more comprehensively grow social impact without necessarily increasing the size of the nonprofit organizations and programs they support. Recognizing that there are a variety of approaches to scale, this briefing paper explores what can be scaled and grantmaking practices that support nonprofits in growing their impact.

Why Supporting Advocacy Makes Sense for Foundations
This article published by Atlantic Philanthropies provides an overview of why funders should consider investing in advocacy, includes examples of successful, foundation-funded advocacy efforts, and poses key questions for individual philanthropists and foundation staff to consider before committing to funding advocacy.

youthCONNECT: A (Net)work in Progress
Venture Philanthropy Partners launched the youthCONNECT, which combines federal funding, philanthropic resources, and the experience of six of the highest performing nonprofit service providers to improve education, employment, and healthy behavior outcomes for low-income and at-risk youth. A key component of youthCONNECT has been the development of a shared framework for monitoring outcomes. This case study describes VPP's collaborative process with College Summit, KIPP DC, Latin American Youth Center, Metro TeenAIDS, Urban Alliance, and Year Up NCR.

Zeroing in on Impact
This article argues that in an era of declining resources, nonprofits need to clarify their intended impact. In the face of resource-allocation decision difficulty, revising the organization's mission so that it is narrowly focused on a finite set of objectives is one way to resolve it.